The Vagina Monologues
V-Day 2018 – 20th Anniversary
This Special Bulletin is dedicated to our recent celebration of the 20th Anniversary of V-Day 2018, Eve Ensler’s long-running global campaign to end violence against women and girls. This American Women’s Club of Berlin production, directed by Molly Moylan Brown, raised funds for Ban Ying, e.V., one of Berlin’s oldest projects for women who have been victims of violence, exploitation, or human trafficking.
The two evening performances on 22&23 February at The English Theatre Berlin, as well as the afternoon performance on 26 February at the John-F.-Kennedy High School (as the kick-off event for Feminist Intiative’s Women’s Week programming), were an unqualified success. Two sold-out multimedia theatre performances with a 13-member cast of international women comprised of amateurs and professionals alike, netted €5000 for Ban Ying and €500 to V-Day, including monies raised by the JFKS performance. In particular, members’ word-of-mouth and an interview by Sylvia Cunningham on KCRW [https://kcrwberlin.com/?s=The+Vagina+Monologues] with Molly and Luisa Weiss helped to promote the show which was supported entirely by volunteers. Many thanks to the cast, director, crew, and the many volunteers (members and non-members and your teens) for your generous donation of time and talent to support this special production. Read on for more details about this special Anniversary production and the folks who made it happen. Enjoy!
This year, we had the pleasure of staging the show at The English Theatre Berlin, a proper black box theatre with its cozy front lobby, located in Berlin’s lively Kreuzberg district. This venue made it possible to fulfill a vision of creating an immersive, multimedia experience for the audiences from start to finish.
Alice Lorenzon, an installation artist from Berlin’s University of the Arts, created an ‘Art Happening’. Audience members were invited to answer the question What action will you take this year to contribute to the common good of women and girls? on cards during the pre-show. These cards were collected and, while the show ran, assembled by Alice and volunteers to create a surprise visual of VDay 2018.
Info Table, a special table manned by activists, was set up at the entrance to display information brochures on local Berlin women’s organizations such as our beneficiary Ban Ying, Interkulturelle Initiative, Terre des Femmes, and LARA. The activists from these organizations were also invited onstage following the performance to present a brief statement describing their work on the ground in Berlin. In case of a strong individual reaction to the material, which can occasionally occur, a counselor from LAURA was on hand at all three performances.
Food Table, a table of curated foods were sold before and after the performances, all homemade delicacies suggested by AWC member Luisa Weiss and Cynthia Barcomi. This was managed by members My-Linh Kunst and Lissa Rosenbloom and AWC Volunteers in “V-Day black & pink”. The food was donated by Deborah Roderick, Karen Castellon, Shweta Gupta, Emi Bevacqua, Janel Schermerhorn, Lissa Rosenbloom, Robina Lillecrapp, Ali Siegert, Mary-Louise Detterer, and Loulou Krömer. Cynthia Barcomi created specially designed V-Day cookies, which were sold to help add to the funds raised for Ban Ying. (Photo left: daughters of Clare Wigfall, Photo credit: Clare Wigfall]
Looping Video, created by Henry Brown (Molly’s son), a collage retrospective from last year’s 2017 production of The Vagina Monologues at The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, a mix of video shot by Henry combined with still photos taken by Karen Axelrad and Susanne Ollmann.
Live Keyboard Music was generously provided by the talented Gabriel Augustin (AWC member Tammy Ingram’s son). He performed all-original works. It was his second time performing for the production, having been part of the jazz trio, KELLER, at last year’s shows. [Photo left: AWC member Karin Janssen & Gabriel Augustin]
The Main Theatre – The raked audience seating accommodated approximately 150 guests with a straight view ahead to the stage, one exit aisle left open. In addition, cushions were supplied for additional seating and many audience members stood.
Beamer Projection – for some months before the show, we gathered answers from around the world to the question: “When there is no more violence, how will it change your relationship to…”. These responses were compiled and projected alternately across the floor and walls of the theatre during the pre-show with original instrumental underscoring donated by music artist Kara Johnstad. This was beautifully assembled by Jacqueline Routier and her son Dylan, with help from Molly’s son, Oscar.
The Set – Assistant to the Director Silvia Malo, AWC members Sharon Kuckuck, Maggie Repp, Lissa Rosenbloom, and Molly Brown with generous help from Melanie Porcella, Oscar Brown, and Harvey Friedman (Cynthia’s husband), helped to source the set pieces and build the set. We created a kind of 1930’s ‘women’s salon’ aesthetic à la Gertrude Stein. To that end, we were loaned a Persian carpet from Lissa, and Moderne Zeiten provided us free access to all the furniture – antique chairs for the cast members and 2 antique tables, on top of which we had hand-painted ceramic vases, courtesy of Silvia, filled with tulips and cherry blossoms.
The Costumes – antique kimonos were provided by Aura Berlin, with personalized styling assistance from Amundra. Each member had the opportunity to visit the shop and select 2 kimonos. These elegant pieces not only suited each cast member, but seemed to perfectly match their roles. The kimono radiates a powerful femininity, grace and power. It made a subtle connection to the primarily Southeast Asian women that Ban Ying serves. A 2-meter, dramatic ivory-colored, hand-embroidered kimono hung from the lobby ceiling behind the food table, drawing the audience’s eye as soon as they entered the lobby.
The multinational performers were a mix of AWC members and non-members, both amateur and professional. We had actors, singers, activists, teachers, mothers, artists, writers, and women from the commercial and the non-profit sectors. With just 3 official rehearsals plus one-on-one coaching appointments with the director, the show’s performances came together. It’s not a lot of time to put together a show that is both professional and cohesive, but the cast pulled it off. We had two casts – one for the English Theatre Berlin and one for the JFKS show. For complete list of cast members, please see Vagina Monologues Program 2018 .
Thank you to all the volunteers from AWC Berlin and friends who generously contributed their time and talent. This community event could not have happened without their kindness and dedication.
Ban Ying e.V. – Ban Ying believes every migrant woman has an inalienable right to justice regardless of her ‘official status.’ As one of Berlin’s oldest women’s advocacy projects, Ban Ying stands for migrant women who have suffered violence and exploitation, including human trafficking, through two ongoing projects – a Shelter that serves as an anonymous, protective living space and a Coordination and Counseling Center offering migrant women in distress human rights driven, non-discriminatory, and non-confessional counseling in their mother tongue. Ban Ying’s advocacy extends to public relations aimed at improving living conditions and social and legal status of migrant women (in particular, but not exclusively, those from Southeast Asia and including domestic workers in diplomatic households) in Germany. www.ban-ying.de
My-Linh Kunst, Livia Valensise, Babette Rohner (social worker at Ban Ying), Krisanta Caguioa-Moennich (language mediator for Filipino)
Thank you to our Sponsors
Aura Berlin. AURA is a boutique for “Kimono Lovers“ where you can find original Japanese Vintage kimonos from different decades. Whether you have already discovered your passion for kimonos or if you are still in search of a new liaison: carefully curated, unique pieces are waiting to be discovered by you.
Please click here to download Vagina Monologues Program 2018
Photo credits: My-Linh Kunst, Karen Axelrad, Justyna Pleitgen